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Archie and pals prepare for the horrors ahead. (Credit: Archie Comics)

Why every horror fan owes it to themselves to check out Archie Horror

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Oct 20, 2020, 3:00 PM EDT

What comes to mind when you hear the words Archie Comics? Archie and Jughead? Betty and Veronica? Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe? Good wholesome comics? Maybe the ever-popular CW series? But did you know that something more sinister exists beneath the surface in Riverdale if you dig deep enough — vampires, werewolves, the undead... even satanic cults?

Whether you’re a Riverdale fan, an Archie Comics fan, or most importantly a lover of horror, the Archie Horror line has something for you. Whether your preference is the zombie apocalypse, a teen vampire slayer, killer werewolves, or satanic cults, there’s literally something for every type of horror fan. With Halloween right around the corner, there's no better time to check out these fantastic books. You can find them at any comic book retailer or at Archie Comics’ online store.

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Afterlife with Archie

While the mainline comics that you see in lines at the grocery store are known for their wholesomeness, the Archie Horror imprint takes surprising risks with its source material. This definitely isn’t your grandparents’ Riverdale. The line kicked off in 2013 with Afterlife with Archie, written by Riverdale creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. The comic features a “what if” storyline, wherein Sabrina the Teenage Witch accidentally causes a zombie outbreak in Riverdale after using necromancy to resurrect Jughead’s dog, Hot Dog.

The title features all the zombie tropes you would expect: gore, surprise deaths, a general feeling of being outnumbered. But the series eventually branches off into unexpected territory featuring some cosmic and downright chilling horror that’s evocative of the works of H.P. Lovecraft, The Walking Dead, and The Shining. It’s an absolute must-read and stands as one of the imprint's strongest titles.

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Vampironica

If vampires are more your thing, look no further. In the cleverly-titled Vampironica, everyone’s favorite rich girl Veronica Lodge gets stricken with vampirism. Rather than accept her fate, she decides to use her newfound undead abilities to hunt down the bloodsuckers, right to the source of the head vampire. The series carries more of a Buffy the Vampire Slayer vibe than a Dracula one, right down to the concept of having a cheerleader vampire hunter as our lead character.

Loaded with gore and tons of vampire-slaying action, Vampironica is boosted by clever writing from Greg and Meg Smallwood and features some of the best art in the Archie Horror family of titles. There is a set-piece that pays tribute to Tales from the Crypt: Bordello of Blood. Yes, it’s as awesome as it sounds. 

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Jughead: The Hunger

If you’re a fan of movies like The Howling or American Werewolf in London, then you’ll absolutely love Archie Horror’s take on the werewolf mythos with Jughead: The Hunger. In this Archie retelling, Jughead is unknowingly the Riverdale Ripper, a serial killer loose in the town. He blacks out every full moon and inexplicably kills innocent people. Eventually, he learns that lycanthropy runs in the family and he transforms into a beast every full moon. When he finally turns to his friend Archie and Betty for help, it’s revealed that Betty comes from a family of werewolf hunters and has been keeping an eye on Jughead since the start of their friendship.

Jughead: The Hunger features some of the gnarliest gore in the imprint, along the lines of copious amounts of blood and too many dismemberments to count. The story's strength lies in the writing from Frank Tieri that weaves an intriguing and absolutely addicting werewolf tale that spans the longest of any other title in the line. 

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Blossoms 666

Meanwhile, Blossoms 666, written by Cullen Bunn, plays out like a twisted combination of The Omen and Cruel Intentions. The title reimagines the Blossom family as part of a Satan-worshipping cult. Cheryl and Jason are pulled into their family’s antics when it’s revealed that they’re actually competing to see who will ultimately become the Antichrist. What follows is one of the most back-stabby, gruelingly violent competitions that you can’t help but enjoy.

Mean girl Cheryl being portrayed as a candidate for potential Antichrist is a sight to behold, and plays out a lot better than one would expect, and the art by Laura Braga is fantastic.

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